Sunday, July 14, 2024 

Colorado retailers experienced sales decline over past year

Denver's 7-ABC reported local comic retailers suffered slumps in sales over the past year or so, though they're trying to keep on going:
In April 2024, ComicsPRO released a comics retailer survey, which found a drop in retail comic book sales for 2023.

Below is a portion of the survey provided to Denver7 from ComicsPRO's Executive Director Marco Davanzo.

Sales:
  • 54% of retailers reported gross sales of $300,000 or less in 2023, while 18% of retailers reported gross sales over $1 million.
  • Overall, sales were down in 2023. The majority of comic book stores (69%) reported lower gross sales in 2023 than in 2022. A bright spot, however, is that 22% of stores reported higher sales in 2023 than in 2022.
  • When comparing 2023 sales to 2019 (pre-pandemic), fewer stores experienced a sales decline. 54% of comic book stores reported lower gross sales in 2023 than in 2019.
  • Sales of new comics were down in 73% of comic shops in 2023 vs 2022, while graphic novel sales were down in 65% of comic shops, with a decline of between 1% and 50% reported.
Mile High Comics here in Denver is one of the largest comic book retail stores in the country. Owner Chuck Rozanski says he did have a drop in gross sales in 2023. However, it was not as high as ComicPRO's survey.

"Our gross sales today are less than our gross sales were when we bought this building (2011). But that's because we voluntarily abandoned the new comic book model, got out of that business as much as possible, and we focused on collector's items, where we're not buying them through distributors. We're not buying them from the publishers. We're just buying them from people," Rozanski said.

Rozanski has worked in the comics retail for about 54 years. He believes that there are a few factors to why comic book sales have been on a decline — one reason being the core comic book readers are aging out. Also younger comic book readers prefer to consume comics on devices rather than purchasing a physical copy.
Yawn. Rozanski, a leftist who took some woke directions in past years, is only avoiding the more challenging questions and answers, like whether the quality of the stories is horrible. And when we're talking about mainstream, it most definitely is. Another damaging factor is the continued use of company wide crossovers, which bring all stand-alone storytelling to a screeching halt, all for the sake of some absurd tale that doesn't even provide anything healthy to think about. Yet guys like Rozanski refuse to address such topics, if at all.

And without clear sales figures, what if Rozanski is trying to downplay the slumps at his end of the industry? These declines in sales are obviously sad, but when mainstream storytelling quality is as poor as it's become today, you can't be surprised if some effect is to be had on sales receipts. When will any retailers avoiding these issues be willing to acknowlege that?

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Saturday, July 13, 2024 

New manga biography of Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz

Otaku Study announced that Udon Entertainment's published a manga biography of the famous Peanuts cartoonist:
UDON Entertainment has announced the upcoming launch of a new series, Manga Biographies, which will bring the lives of some of history’s most interesting and influential individuals to the medium of Japanese manga. The series will debut with Manga Biographies: Charles Schulz, focusing on the life of the renowned creator of the Peanuts comic strip.

Manga Biographies: Charles Schulz is pitched as a 168-page manga graphic novel written and illustrated by Yuzuru Kuki. This authorized biography seeks to cover Schulz’s life, from his early years in Minnesota and his love of drawing to his time in the army and his rise to fame as a beloved cartoonist. The manga aims to present Schulz’s story in a clear and welcoming style suitable for both young and old readers, and touch upon significant historical events that influenced Schulz’s life and highlights how Peanuts impacted those events.
They've certainly developed a clever way of telling the life of a famous figure from outside Japan. The publisher of Street Fighter comics has definitely got a good idea here.

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Friday, July 12, 2024 

The world's oldest animated cartoon

The Times of India has some history of Fantasmagorie, the oldest known cartoon in the medium, dating back as far as 1908:
With no narrative sequence and objects magically morphing to something completely different, Fantasmagorie was the first animated feature film of its kind. The title is a reference to ‘fantasmograph’, a 19th century ‘magic lantern’ that projected ghostly images onto walls. This silent film by Emile Cohl is an example of hand drawn animation.

It is believed to be a tribute to the brief but significant French Incoherent art movement. The Incoherents believed that art is subjective and hence it should never be restricted to the age-old traditions and norms, rather it should break those boundaries to accommodate newer kinds of media too. Art should not just be for the pleasure of a few chosen intellectuals, who decide what is supposed to be considered art.

The film appears to be created on a blackboard, but it actually was drawn on a paper. Cohl made a total of 700 drawings on a white paper, each almost similar to the last with just minor alterations. They were then shot on a negative film so as to give it an illusion that white lines were running on a black background. It was a hard task, to draw 700 different sequences and make them appear that they are actually moving. The animation is about a mysterious puppet, which is shown to be brought to life by someone hand drawing it in the first frame of the film.
And this is how animation as we know it found its origins. Today, there's only so much that could be prepared on computers, as opposed to how frames-per-second was the approach in the early days of animated illustration.

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Thursday, July 11, 2024 

Israel's Animix comic convention will specially focus on October 7, 2023 tragedy

The Jerusalem Post reports that this year's Animix festival for comics and animation, which is held in Tel Aviv, will have a special focus on the tragedy of the Islamic terrorist attack last year on October 7, 2023:
The 24th Animix festival for animation, comics, and caricature from Israel and around the world will be held from August 6-10 in Tel Aviv.

The festival, which will open at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, will focus on visual works dealing with the events of October 7 and the ongoing war in Gaza. The opening will feature the launch of the comic book In the Heart of October 7 – an anthology in which 12 comic book artists illustrate 12 stories of heroism that took place on October 7.

Japanese manga artist Makoto Tanaka, who became famous for her manga story about the kidnapping of Noa Argamani, will arrive from Tokyo to be a guest at the festival. She will speak about this unusual creation and present a selection of her works, many of which are combined with Hebrew texts.

The program “Iron Pencils” will be presented, featuring special projects created during the war in Gaza. It will make accessible and commemorate in lines and colors, graphic novel and animation, stories that we must not forget. A special guest of this evening will be Kibbutz Be’eri resident Chaim Yellin.
This is something many other specialty conventions the world over likely refuse to work on, and who knows if Frank Miller's willing to participate? Unless he actually turns out to be a special guest and visitor, he's once again letting down everyone who admired his courage in focusing on the challenging issue of Islamic terrorism in his Holy Terror GN back in 2011. I'm glad the organizers of Animix are dealing with this subject for this year's convention, and they'd do well to give it some focus next year too.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024 

Gaiman thought supporting "progressive" causes would shield him, but now, it looks like that assumption's been proven mistaken

The UK Telegraph had some extra commentary on the emerging scandal of Neil Gaiman facing sexual assault accusations, and notes how for many years, like only so many other knee-jerk leftists of his sort, he supported some of the most "progressive" causes, no matter the cost, moral or otherwise. Absurdly, however, it's also noted:
Neil Gaiman describes himself as a “free-speech absolutist”. So committed is the best-selling fantasy author to untrammelled expression that he likes to point out he was born on the same day, in November 1960, that the Lady Chatterley’s Lover obscenity trial concluded. The ruling, in favour of DH Lawrence’s novel, was a transformative moment that liberalised publishing.

Gaiman, 63, may be regretting his strident support for outlets to publish whatever they like this week. The creator of The Sandman, Good Omens and American Gods has been accused of sexual assault by two younger women, and is the subject of a police complaint in New Zealand.
Umm, does he support free speech for conservatives and critics of Islam? Because while watching this Vara Dark video about the news, I noticed a commentor stating:
When his friend and longtime collaborator artist Dave McKean was accused of Islamaphobia, Neil Gaiman abandoned him, ghosted him and left him for the wolves. What goes around comes around. This is the world Gaiman promoted, supported and wanted. Hope he enjoys it.
Well if Gaiman sees nothing wrong with the Religion of Peace - not even its record of sexual violence - then it only compounds the perception he's a huge moral hypocrite. Some male "feminist" he is alright. Chances are very high that somebody who may have supported the phrase "believe all women" changes his tune entirely when a lady falls victim to a jihadist. Including Jewish women and girls. On which note, I can't say I've seen him comment on the issue of October 7, 2023. And if he hasn't, that's telling. He once seemingly condemned the attack on Salman Rushdie by a jihadist 2 years ago, but even that was unconvincing in light of his otherwise approving positions on the Religion of Peace, and any offenses he committed against women certainly nullify what he was ostensibly telling everyone. Back to the Telegraph article, they say:
The author has long been seen as a progressive champion who has inspired devoted gay and transgender fans for putting diverse characters in his novels and comics, as well as an outspoken advocate for people who have suffered sexual abuse.

In The Sandman, the comics he started publishing about a family of cosmic beings in 1989, Gaiman had characters that were gay, trans, non-binary and otherwise unconventional in publishing at the time. Netflix adapted The Sandman into a series in 2022 and, among its casting choices, it gave the role of Desire to the non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park.

Before the series premiered, Gaiman reflected on his early progressive streak in a Guardian interview.

“The great thing about having done all that stuff back then is that there’s an awful lot less work to do now,” he said. “There are moments when people yell at me for being woke online, and I’m like: ‘Have you ever read the f—ing comic?’ People have criticised me for casting a gender-fluid, non-binary actor as Desire, but they were in the original. Desire was always non-binary; that was the whole point of the character.”

He added: “I wasn’t out there banging a drum. These were my friends and I wanted to put them into comics. I wanted to change hearts and minds. I had trans friends and still do, and it seemed to me that no one was putting trans characters in comics. And I had a comic. I would learn things from my friends: for instance, people being buried under dead names [the names they used before transitioning] by their families. That was shocking to me. And I thought, here was this opportunity to write a story in which everybody reading it is going to fall in love with my trans character who is going to be awesome.”
He can say what he likes, but the problem with Gaiman is that he's a classic bleeding-heart liberal, and regarding the issue of sexual abuse, which he's now accused of committing himself, his far-left positions contradict his alleged advocacy considerably. Did he champion people who fell victim to same-sex assaults? That's very unclear. And if Scientology were founded upon worship of science, it's surely ironic how people like Gaiman don't seem to apply such logic in cases involving transsexual ideology. Why, what's wrong with the original names of the practitioners who "transitioned"? Isn't that a form of self-hatred if they despise their gender, sort of like self-hating Jews? Speaking of which:
Gaiman has been in the public eye since he was a small child. The eldest of three, he was born in Portchester, a small Hampshire village, in a Jewish family of Eastern European descent. When he was an infant, Gaiman’s parents settled the family in East Grinstead, West Sussex, where they became devotees of Scientology and studied at the quasi-religion’s global headquarters in the town. David Gaiman, Neil’s father, was Scientology’s British PR chief at the time and, in August 1968, wheeled out his then 7-year-old son on BBC radio to do an interview in an attempt to counter accusations that it “indoctrinated” children.

Speaking to Keith Graves, the precocious youngster said that it “helps you to handle quite a lot of problems” and talked about the various exercises that Scientologists practise. He was later kicked out of the Anglican Fonthill School in East Grinstead because of his family’s Scientology links.
This is what's most alarming and chilling about Gaiman's background. There's two things I'd like to say here. One, as some may know already, the actor Danny Masterson, recently sentenced to 3 decades in prison for raping at least 2 women, was a member of the Scientology cult, and what's been told about Gaiman so far certainly does nothing to alleviate concerns about what their level of "education" is like. Two, it's most disturbing how a family with Israeli ancestry brought themselves down to such horrific levels, adhering to one of the worst modern "religions" to come out of the western world. Yet this too can explain why Gaiman's appears to have such negative views of Israel, and if he ever wrote any stories about the WW2 Holocaust, his lenient views on Islam destroy whatever point he supposedly tried to make. He is, quite simply, a humiliation to Israel, and his adherence to Scientology compounds the perception he has no love or attachment to Israel and its native community. Did I mention he once attacked Comicsgate? Sigh.

It's also decidedly quite telling that somebody like Gaiman brags about having tons of LGBT buddies, but never talks about having Bulgarian buddies, Kenyan buddies, Armenian buddies, French buddies, Peruvian buddies, or even Jewish buddies. Anybody who's going to make that big a deal of having busloads of pals who practice LGBT ideology is solely going to care about that kind of lifestyle, and what Gaiman had to say certainly compounds that perception. Recalling his recent divorce from Amanda Palmer, the scandal he's now accused of could explain why she left him, and if 2 victims were discovered so far, chances are high Gaiman may have victimized several more. On which note, consider the following: So if this is correct, there could be as many as 16-17 women who were wronged by Gaiman, which makes this whole affair most disturbing indeed. If memory serves, he was one of the writers who worked on Miracleman early in his career, a comic that involved the topic of sexual abuse, and what's been discovered certainly won't help the reputation of said comic, even if Gaiman wasn't the one who wrote those specific stories. And to think, he actually advocated for victims of sexual abuse? Let's hope all advocacy movements and victims they represent will be firmly distancing themselves from Gaiman after this. One of the most irritating things about men like Gaiman is that they believe acting as spokespersons for certainly ideologies will guarantee a free pass on whatever serious wrongs they committed. As it appears so far, that's obviously a mistaken assumption, as Harvey Weinstein learned nearly 7 years ago. Leftists like Gaiman may not admit it, but if "toxic masculinity" is a problem, they're the ones who caused it, yet they take a whole "it's everyone else's fault but ours" approach to the subject and nothing is mended.

For all we know, in another decade, people could start to view Gaiman's Sandman series - along with other DC/Marvel stories he scripted - very differently. Maybe as, say, the absurd ramblings of a moral hypocrite desensitized to violence. Some of his fans in the past may have tried to use his Sandman series as an example of at least creating stand-alone LGBT characters in their own roles who weren't introduced for the sake of swapping with white protagonists. But it could still be argued Gaiman was an early example of a woke writer who exploited other people's publications for the sake of pushing identity politics that were harmful and degrading, and his commentaries to the press certainly give strong hints at that. And why are we supposed to admire a story from around the 8th issue of Sandman where Death goes about even overseeing the end of an infant's life? Something that bleak and downbeat is not what I want to read comics for. Gaiman's version of the Sandman only represents all that's wrong with modern storytelling becoming overeliant on darkness and horror themes. We could honestly do without it in the long run.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2024 

Disney characters illustrated by Holocaust survivors

Israel Hayom has an article about a new exhibition at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum featuring Disney-inspired artwork drawn by Holocaust survivors at least 80 years ago:
The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum is set to showcase a collection of Disney-inspired artworks created by Holocaust survivors and victims. These rare pieces, including a Pinocchio-adorned jar buried to escape Nazi persecution and a Mickey Mouse birthday card preserved for over seven decades, offer a unique window into how Jews, especially children, found solace and expression through familiar cartoon characters during one of history's darkest periods.

For 80 years, these artworks remained hidden, some wrapped, damaged, or concealed, yet they managed to survive the journey from concentration camps and ghettos. Often the sole possessions of Holocaust survivors, they have now found their way into Yad Vashem's collections.

As part of the "relocation" to the new Shaffer collections center, which houses millions of historical artifacts – objects, documents, artworks, and photographs from countless sources – artistic treasures created by Jews during the Holocaust have been uncovered. Most of these were made by children and teenagers who expressed their emotions through works featuring characters familiar to almost everyone – Walt Disney films.

"One of the most touching Disney drawings was created in March 1941, at the height of the war, inspired by the film 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,'" curator Eliad Moreh-Rosenberg, director of Yad Vashem's Art Collection, says. "Henri Kichka, father of Michel Kichka, was then a 15-year-old boy who had lost his family in the gas chambers and found refuge in the magical world of fairy tales. After the war, he returned to Brussels and collected items from the family apartment, including this drawing which he gave to his daughter Hanna, who immigrated to Israel in 1970. Hanna passed the drawing to her son Yaron, who received a dedication from his grandfather – 'To Yaron, from his grandpa.'"
Well this is incredible, and demonstrates the positive influence and inspiration Walt Disney provided even for Jews over in Europe during its dark days of the 20th century. Including the story of Snow White, which should make clear that, if Disney studios is still going ahead with their woke vision for a live action film, it'll only make a mockery of the meaning the original 1930s cartoon had in its time. Hopefully, justice has prevailed on that subject, seeing how they delayed any live action movie that was in the can. Yad Vashem and their contributors have done an important service, proving what positive influence the Disney cartoons had in their time for victims of persecution as much as the regular moviegoer.

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Monday, July 08, 2024 

Manga specialty store in Cincinnati finds big success

WCPO-9 ABC has a report on a manga specialty store in Cincinnati that's become a big deal:
Owner C. Jacqueline Wood doesn’t claim to be an expert on manga. She’s a filmmaker who became interested in anime movies and manga books after watching the films of Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary Japanese director who has won multiple Academy Awards.

Two years ago, Wood took a chance. She opened what she says is our region's only Japanese comic book shop.

"Everyone knows someone who loves manga or anime,” Wood said.

So what started as a store with 2,500 books quickly grew to more than 5,000.

College Hill officials tell us this small business is making a big impact in Cincinnati. And Wood says she wouldn’t have been able to open without help from the College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation.

Emmanuel Karikari runs that nonprofit organization, which focuses on developing the neighborhood’s business district. He says his group offers lower rent to small business owners. They also helped Wood move from one building to another to get more foot traffic.

Karikari laughs when asked about his manga knowledge, but he said he’s consistently surprised by the crowds drawn to the store. People come from all over.

“We’ve never had anything like a manga shop anywhere near College Hill,” Karikari said.

Wood said she’s been more successful because of their help, which includes sponsoring an anime film festival that starts this month.
What this can tell us is that, if there's any comics succeeding in USA sales today, it's foreign products, certainly far more than mainstream USA products. Though I do find it annoying the proprietor was inspired to open this store based on viewing the films of a leftist like Miyazaki, when there are plenty more anime producers and directors in Japan whose productions could be just as compelling, and even more. And it's not availing when some of the people involved hint they're not experts on Japan's medium any more than the domestic.

Apart from that, a manga specialty store is certainly a great idea, and if people in Ohio find this more absorbing than the sorry state USA comics are in now, that's good.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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